In 1961, Bob Dylan recorded “Fixin’ to Die” for his debut album, released the following year. The album liner notes indicate that it “was learned from an old recording by Bukka White”. However, Dylan’s arrangement uses a slightly different melody line and some new lyrics.
The Best Songs: Fixin’ To Die Blues by Bukka White aka Booker T Washington
“Fixin’ to Die” is song by American blues musician Bukka White. It is performed in the Delta blues style with White’s vocal and guitar accompanied by washboard rhythm. White recorded it in Chicago on May 8, 1940, for record producer Lester Melrose. The song was written just days before, along with eleven others, at Melrose’s urging.
White was resuming his recording career, which had been interrupted by his incarceration for two and one-half years at the infamous Parchman Farm prison in Mississippi. While there, White witnessed the death of a friend and “got to wondering how a man feels when he dies”. His lyrics reflect his thoughts about his children and wife:
I’m looking funny in my eyes, an’ I b’lieve I’m fixin’ to die (2×) I know I was born to die, but I hate to leave my children cryin’ … So many nights at the fireside, how my children’s mother would cry (2×) ‘Cause I ain’t told their mother I had to say good-bye
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..Johnny was and is the North Star; you could guide your ship by him – the greatest of the greats then and now. I first met him in ‘62 or ‘63 and saw him a lot in those years. Not so much recently, but in some kind of way he was with me more than people I see every day.
~Bob Dylan (Statement on Johnny Cash – Sept 2003)
I love to go to the studio and stay there 10 or 12 hours a day. I love it. What is it? I don’t know. It’s life.
You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.
Lyle Lovett Inducts Johnny Cash into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:
I Walk The Line – 1956:
John R. Cash
February 26, 1932
Kingsland, Arkansas, United States
September 12, 2003 (aged 71)
Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Country, rock and roll, gospel
Singer-songwriter, musician, actor
Sun, Columbia, Mercury, American, House of Cash, Legacy Recordings
The Tennessee Three, The Highwaymen, June Carter Cash, The Statler Brothers, The Carter Family, Area Code 615
John R. “Johnny” Cash (February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author who was considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Although he is primarily remembered as a country music icon, his songs and sound spanned other genres including rockabilly and rock and roll—especially early in his career—and blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of induction in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
San Quentin (Live):
Cash was known for his deep, distinctive bass-baritone voice, for the “boom-chicka-boom” sound of his Tennessee Three backing band; for a rebelliousness, coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor; for providing free concerts inside prison walls; and for his dark performance clothing, which earned him the nickname “The Man in Black”. He traditionally began his concerts with the phrase “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”, followed by his standard “Folsom Prison Blues”.
Much of Cash’s music echoed themes of sorrow, moral tribulation and redemption, especially in the later stages of his career. His best-known songs included “I Walk the Line”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Ring of Fire”, “Get Rhythm” and “Man in Black”. He also recorded humorous numbers like “One Piece at a Time” and “A Boy Named Sue”; a duet with his future wife, June Carter, called “Jackson”; and railroad songs including “Hey, Porter” and “Rock Island Line”. During the last stage of his career, Cash covered songs by several late 20th-century rock artists, most notably “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails.
Some awards & Honors:
His diversity was evidenced by his presence in three major music halls of fame:
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (1977)
Country Music Hall of Fame (1980)
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1992)
Only thirteen performers are in both of the last two, and only Hank Williams Sr., Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills, and Bill Monroe share the honor with Cash of being in all three. However, only Cash was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the regular manner, unlike the other country members, who were inducted as “early influences.”
His pioneering contribution to the genre has also been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1996. Cash stated that his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, in 1980, was his greatest professional achievement. In 2001, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. He was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for best cinematography for “Hurt” and was supposed to appear, but died during the night.
Booker T. Washington “Bukka” White (November 12, 1906– February 26, 1977) was a delta blues guitarist and singer born in Aberdeen, Mississippi. Even though he didn’t like the spelling “Bukka”, he was best known by that name. “Bukka” was not a nickname, but a phonetic misspelling of White’s given name Booker, by his second (1937) record label (Vocalion).
He is also known for giving his more famous cousin B.B. King his first guitar, a Stella.
A selection of “Bukka” White performances part 1:
White started his career playing fiddle at square dances. He met Charley Patton early on, although some doubt has been cast upon this; regardless, Patton was a large influence on White. He typically played slide guitar, in an open tuning. He was one of the few, along with Skip James, to use a crossnote tuning in Em, which he may have learned, as James did, from Henry Stuckey. (Lastfm)
A selection of “Bukka” White performances part 2:
Booker T. Washington “Bukka” White was active from the 30s all up to the mid 70s (he died in 1977).
by Uncle Dave Lewis
Blues purists will tell you that nothing Bukka White recorded after 1940 is ultimately worth listening to. This isn’t accurate, nor fair. White was an incredibly compelling performer who gave up of more of himself in his work than many artists in any musical discipline. The Sky Songs albums for Arhoolie are an eminently rewarding document of Bukka’s charm and candor, particularly in the long monologue “Mixed Water.” “Big Daddy,” recorded in 1974 for Arnold S. Caplin’s Biograph label, likewise is a classic of its kind and should not be neglected.